BSNL – STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE (3)
One Day Strike on 5th December 2011
Against the move of BSNL to deny Bonus, Medical Allowance, Leave Encashment etc. to employees on the plea of loss to the company, one day strike was organised on 5th December 2011. Despite the strike, management was going on with its anti-worker decisions. Forum discussed this issue in detail and decided to organise further agitational programmes. The main demands focussed were merger of 78.2% IDA fixation, Pension Revision, Revision of Transport Allowance, Children Educational Allowance, Family Planning Allowance etc., Restoration of LTC, implementation of Child Care Leave and Retirement Benefits to the employees recruited in BSNL as per DPE directions. Indefinite Strike from 13th June 2012After protest demonstrations, dharna etc. notice for Indefinite Strike was served to start from 13th June 2012. CMD BSNL called for discussions and the same was held on 11 and 12th June with the unions affiliated to Forum. The following agreement was reached:
Pay will be revised with 78.@% fitment, Medical Reimbursement will be given with 68.8% fitment which will be revised later, all allowances will be paid as earlier, BSNL Board will take decision on Child Care Leave, Committee formed for the purpose will examine the case of retirement benefits to the BSNL recruited employees. On these assurances, strike was deferred. Even when the company was on loss, such an agreement could be made only due to the united struggle of the workers.
Parliament March on ITS issue on 22nd November 2012
On ITS absorption, government was playing hide and seek, without settling the issue. As per call of Forum, demonstrations and dharnas were organised. Savingrams were sent to Prime Minister, Minister Communications, Cabinet Secretary and DOT Secretary demanding immediate action. This was an issue concerned both with BSNL and MTNL. Hence unions of MTNL and BSNL jointly organised a massive Parliament March on 22nd November 2012 which was participated by more than 5,000 workers. The rally was presided by Com.C.Singh, Chairman Forum and addressed by Members of Parliament Basudeb Acharya (CPIM), Arjun Meghwal (BJP) and leaders of the Forum. A Memorandum was handed over to the Prime Minister’s office by Forum leaders.
At last, Child Care Leave was ordered on 8th March 2013, as per assurance, which benefitted women employees. As per High Court order in the case filed by unions, ITS officers on deputation to BSNL were sent back to DOT. But circumventing the High Court order, again they were granted ‘Permanent Deputation’ to BSNL. Forum submitted its suggestions in detail for the revival of BSNL to the Group of Ministers constituted by government with Shri P.Chidambaram, Finance Minister, as Chairman.
A National Convention was held in Mavlankar Hall, Delhi, on 3rd August 2013, under the auspices of Forum participated by more than 1000 delegates which discussed about the challenges faced by BSNL and its workers. Similar Conventions were held in circles and divisions and gave wide publicity among common people for the Declaration adopted by the Delhi Convention. Publicity was given in newspapers. Members of Parliament Dr. Sanjeeva reddy (INTUC), Basudeb Acharya, Khagan Das, P.R.Natarajan (CPIM), Gurudas Dasgupta (AITUC) and others raised these issues in the Parliament and criticised the government for discriminating BSNL.78.2% IDA merged with Pay
Forum issued notice for strike with effect from 12th June 2013 since the earlier assurances were not fully implemented. DOT intervened immediately and called the unions for discussion. Orders were issued for 78.2% IDA merger which was one of the most important demands raised and which benefitted the employees in a big way. This was a significant achievement, even when the company was in loss.
Telegraph Services discontinued
BSNL management decided to discontinue Telegraph services, which was introduced in India in 1854 along with Railways and was effectively working, being utilised by the public effectively. Forum of BSNL Unions and Associations strongly protested and demanded that it should be allowed to continue. Though number of telegrams was reduced due to introduction of mobile and connected technologies, many were still using the facility. As Convener of the Forum, I visited the major cities like Mumbai, Kolkata etc., held meetings of employees, collected all related information including the number of telegrams being booked and received and tried to convince BSNL Management that it will not be a loss, as there were more than 1000 telegrams in the major cities per day. Issued statements, interviews were broadcasted by BBC and other channels, but of no use. BSNL terminated the services with effect from 15th July 2013.
Tens of thousands of telegrams were booked by people on that day all over the country to use the service for the last time. In many CTOs, people were queuing even at midnight to send their last telegram. The employees worked till the last man booked. A farewell to the telegram service, which was part of the life of people for more than one century for sending and receiving news about death, birth, disease, victory in examination, appointment orders, messages from military , banks etc.etc. On our demand a Telegraph Museum was started in the Kolkata CTO building.
Retirement benefit to Direct Recruitees increased
Retirement benefits to BSNL Direct Recruitees were limited to 18% only, whereas the demand raised by unions was 30%. Discussion took place with the High Power Committee appointed for the purpose and was able to get increased to 20%. Efforts continued for further increase.
Anti-worker recommendations of Deolitte CommitteeThe Deloittee Committee appointed by BSNL gave its report recommending VRS, reduction of posts etc. in the name of improvement of BSNL. Forum protested and demanded BSNL not to accept these anti-BSNL, anti-worker recommendations and organised protest demonstrations including at the place where the Conference of the Circle Heads were being held.Hectic Campaign for revival of BSNLAs per decision of the Forum, leaders at various levels met hundreds of Members of Parliament, explained present position of BSNL and the need to revive it. Many of them raised the issue in Parliament.
The Parliament March organised in this connection on 25th February 2015 was participated by thousands of workers from all the circles. The March started from Sanchar Bhawan, Head Quarters of BSNL, moved through Janpath, Tolstoy Marg, Jantan Mantar despite no-permission from the Police, till it was stopped near Parliament Police Station. The rally held there was addressed by central trade union leaders Tapan Sen M.P.(CITU), Brijesh Upadhyay (BMS), Shiv Gopal Mishra (HMS – AIRF), Amarjith Kaur (AITUC), Dr.Dharam Vir Gandhi (AAP) and also leaders of the Forum. Forum representatives went to the Prime Minister’s Office and handed over the lakhs of signatures collected from the people demanding revival of BSNL. (to be continued). Photos: BSNL Revival Convention